The memory of dust

[words by Narina Exelby]

My favourite way to travel is by road. By car, motorbike, bicycle, foot, 4×4… as long as I have the power to stop when I choose, to turn down a road I find interesting, to return to a place that is fascinating.

To take a few moments – even on a long journey – to get out and wander around, or simply to roll down the window and breathe in the air of a new place. To connect. To understand.

Perhaps that’s why, 10 months later, I still often look back on the journey Mark and I made through Tsavo in Kenya, and long to return. We explored the park with a ravenous sense of freedom, greedily choosing to drive roads less travelled, ones that looked the most interesting, or that would lead us to magical places.

Before we left Nairobi in our reliable old hired Land Cruiser – Katy-P, we’d named her – our plan was to travel Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks. In all of the literature we came across, we read that together the two parks cover an area larger than Israel. Neither Mark nor I have ever been to Israel so that comparison meant nothing, and we decided to drive the length of the parks from south to north so that we could understand the scale for ourselves.

It was a beautiful journey along roads that took us through barren landscapes and lush valleys; alongside wetlands and lakes, over lava flows, and through thick, harsh African scrub. And all the way, the fine red dust of Tsavo settled into our breath, into our vehicle, into our skin.

The photograph you see above, the opening spread of a feature I wrote for the July issue of Getaway magazine, was taken one morning in Tsavo East. We’d stopped, as we did every morning, to indulge in cold coffee and watch the world around us. You’ll need to read the story in Getaway to see why, but it was an unforgettable morning – one where the delicate dance of life unfolded layer by layer and what once seemed like an ordinary moment became one etched in memory for ever.

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